I have the Samsung SCH-a650 and the phone works rather well when I'm on Verizon's network, though I haven't tested it on Verizon's network in Michigan. I however tested it on Alltel's network over Labor Day weekend and I had the same problems I had with my old Motorola 120c, lots of dropped calls and the phone bouncing from digital to analog and back, though not as much this year as a year ago. The Indiana/Michigan state line is still analog on Alltel's network since my phone went into analog for about a mile or 2 into Michigan on I-94. if I ever get a chance to visit Holland or Grand Rapids, I'll be sure to give it a try, but while on Alltel's network, expect the phone to switch between analog and digital (if you get a tri-mode phone) and possibly dropped calls. Alltel doesn't have most of their towers close enough to the highway to have decent reception like Verizon does in northern Indiana, Chicago and nearby suburbs, and the Milwaukee and Madison Wisconsin markets. So if you have to travel in Alltel's territory, you should expect to experience what I experienced.
I travel a lot to areas the cell phone people consider remote. I currently have AT&T, but their prices are insane and reception is often not good.
Verizon is the only company whose coverage and rates make any sense. I want to buy the phone with the best possible reception. From what I've found surfing around the Motorola phones are a BAD choice. Verizon choices are Kyocera KX414, LGVX3200, Nokia 3589i, Samsung SCH-a650 (and some very expensive phones with features I don't need).
Can anyone give advice? Appearance, ease of use, features, etc. are all nice, but definately secondary.
The only other feature I care about is durability, as I know already that I will drop it. A lot.